For those of you who do not know, I’m in this band called grizzlies. First thing's first: how I met the guys in the band and how it came to be. To start off, there’s this on-campus club called Musician’s Guild. I joined my freshman year, and have been a part of it since. In fact, I am the vice president now, and it’s been quite the journey so far. We’re a D.I.Y. music venue that books local musicians all over the New England area through URI.
The reason I bring that up is that that’s where I first met Josh Zenil and Mike Villani. Josh is our guitar player, and Mike is our bass player. We were your basic quiet, shy freshmen type, but had not realized we’d soon become close and play the sickest music ever. Musician’s Guild also brought us Harrison, the drummer, and Emily Iwuc, the pianist, later on. They did not join guild until the year after. Josh, Mike, and I did not officially play live until our sophomore year, but became good friends first as we got to know each other more in each meeting.
We soon began to hang out more outside of meetings considering we were the only new additions to the club. I’d like to acknowledge that Mike, our bass guy, once picked up his bass, played some Tool, and said he was still a little rusty and wasn’t that good. But boy, he was good and has put himself out more and more considering he was the quietest one of the three of us.
One day, I recall Mike and Josh saying they had gotten together to jam out, and I immediately asked them if I could join. Up until that point, my ultimate fantasy was to be the lead singer of a rock band because I had only really done a lot of singing in talent shows and my high school choir. For some reason, that just wasn’t hardcore enough for me.
For our first actual performance, we only covered songs by other artists since we needed to test each other out and put ourselves out there first. We teamed up with Kennedy Phillips, a URI I senior at the time, who played drums since Harrison hadn’t joined the band yet. Our first performance took place the fall semester of our second year at URI. After that, Harrison and Josh met up to jam out, and proposed to start a band.
And we did. Although, our first band name was not grizzlies., but instead, we were called Nakamarra in the very beginning. The inspiration came from the song “Nakamarra” by Hiatus Kaiyote. We chose the name because the song fit with the genre of music we wanted to play. The song has a bit of neo-soul, funky jazz kind of sound, and it totally fit our aesthetic and the music we wanted to make.
That was only for a while because later we found out some other band in England had a bigger set of followers with the same name. Long story, short… we became then became grizzlies. after going back and forth with choosing a different band name. We chose grizzlies. because it gave a more home, cozy kind of feeling. The type of feeling we want to communicate to the different crowds we play to.
This story can go on forever, and it is such a pleasure to get to play with such talented people. Being in this band has not only made me a better singer, but it has increased my confidence a lot more. Even the other members in the band have become better and better every day. Everyone in this band is truly a blessing in my life.
I’ve learned to emphasize the distinctively badass person I have inside when I’m on stage. To own every single note I belt out and groove to in that moment. Singing feels like such a high, and it feels so much more better when you’re actually enjoying it. Before, singing in front of others made me want to die. It would affect my tone and the key I was singing in. I’d let my feelings get the best of me until one person told me how it really was.
One of the sound guys at one of our first paid shows in Providence told me I did an amazing job singing but said I did not own my presence. It has really stuck with me because I knew that taking on this position as the front lady took a lot more than just doing the singing. I had to hype up the crowd with my every ounce of energy and is what I’m doing at every show we get to play our music at.
Being in this band has taught me to continue my path in music even though it’s not my major in college. Being part of this band has allowed me to grow such a bond with all of the people in it. It has kept us all in check, and we’re unstoppable. Being part of this band has helped me enhance my creative writing.
So, why not join a band if you enjoy any musical activities? It’s one of the recommended things to do in college. You never know if it’ll go somewhere. Any gig we get offered will be another step towards success. Look out for grizzlies. Because this is gonna be our year.